Khaplu Palace, also popularly known as Yabgo Khar, is a fort transformed into a Palace. Yabgo Khar means “The fort on the roof.” This magnificent Khaplu Fort Pakistan is located on the upper side of Khaplu town of Skardu, in front of Karakoram highway, in the Gilgit Baltistan region. Khaplu Fort Gilgit Baltistan served as a royal residence for the King of Khaplu. This enchanting location is a classic living example of a royal residence in Baltistan. Serena Khaplu Palace is now managed by Serena Hotels, providing tourists and guests with a great authentic heritage experience. This place will let you experience the royal lifestyle. This is one of the most Royal Forts.
History of Khaplu Fort
The old Khaplu Fort was built by the king of the Yabgo Dynasty, Raja Daulat Ali Khan of Khaplu, in 1840. Later, the Khaplu region was captured by the Ruler of Kashmir, belonging to the Dogra Dynasty. The Dogras of Kashmir decided to shift the seat of government to another palace. for this purpose, they consulted Raja Daulat Ali Khan. The Dogras chose to roll a large stone down from a high cliff nearby so wherever the stone would stop, that particular site would be the destination of a new palace. The stone stopped at a village named Doqsai, so the Dogras decided to construct the new Palace there. The rulers of Khaplu and their descendants inhabited the Khaplu Palace for over 100 years.
During the conquest of Khaplu in the 1950s, the old Khaplu Murad Khan, the ruler of Baltistan of the Maqpon dynasty, captured the Palace. He besieged the Palace for up to three months. As a result, Rahim Khan, the 62nd Yabgo dynasty ruler of Khaplu, had to surrender to the troops of Murad Khan. The kingdom of the Yabgo Dynasty ended in 1972, but their descendants continued to live in the Khaplu Palace. Raja Fateh Ali Khan was the last ruler of Khaplu. He died in Khaplu Palace in 1983. after that, the Palace remained deserted for many years and fell into a dilapidated condition. The extreme annual snowfall of Skardu also increased the fort’s erosion process. Recognizing the historical significance of this Royal palace, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) decided to take the Palace in 2005 to restore the history of the Khaplu region.
The Architecture of Khaplu Palace
The old Khaplu Fort, built by the Yabgo Dynasty, was a four-story building constructed with the skilled craftsmanship of Kashmiri and Baltit architects. The design of the roof reflects Tibet and Ladakh architecture. Architects used Poplar wood, timber, clay, mud bricks, and soil mortar to stabilize the fort’s structure and make it resistant to earthquakes. The addition of airy octagonal wooden balconies enhances the main exterior of the Palace. In front of the building features floral patterns and geometric designs influenced by Kashmiri, Balti, and Persian designs. Hatim Khan, a Yabgo ruler, conquered a fort in Skardu, took its wooden carved door, and fixed it at the entrance of the Khaplu Palace. A lush green carpet of grass covers the front Lawn of the Palace. The restoration and renovation of the old Palace took up to 6 years, from 2005 to 2011. The ancient Palace consists of four prestigious royal rooms: Royal Meeting Room, Princess Dressing room, Queen Room, and Royal Balcony.
Renovation of Khaplu Palace
After the death of the last ruler of Khaplu town, the condition of Khaplu Palace became fragile because of tolerating vulnerable conditions for many years. This historic heritage and fantastic tourist attraction of the present time came to life through the efforts of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture under the Aga Khan Historic Cities Program. This program works hard to restore northern Pakistan’s significant historical monuments, including the famous Baltit Fort and the Shigar Fort. The renovation project continued from 2005 to 2011 to resurrect the marvelous Khaplu Fort of Gilgit Baltistan. The renovation project carried out by the Agha Khan Trust is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Their embassy is in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.
The new Khaplu Palace, built with stone and wooden carvings, with its beautiful interior and exterior, will take you into another world. Only one sight of this mesmerizing Palace is enough to impress anyone. The Tibetan, Balti, and Ladakhi architecture of the Serena Khaplu Palace will transport you into historical times. The restoration project modified the Palace by introducing decent wooden styles, the crisscross technique, and placing minimalist royal furniture in every room. Dim, warm lights are placed in every corner of the ceilings to add a romantic and sophisticated evening look. The newly renovated Khaplu Palace is now handed over to Serena Hotels to manage and accommodate guests and tourists. Serena Khaplu Palace offers more than a human mind could ever ask. Let us dive into all the attractions this contemporary and chic place offers.
Royal Suite (Accommodation)
Serena Khaplu Palace is a dreamy hotel featuring 21 rooms and Royal suites for its visitors. This luxurious and comfortable Palace will take you into another world with its awe-inspiring architecture. The mission of this Palace is to let you experience a Royal life. The Yabgo Khar consists of 2 Royal suites, 2 Heritage suites, and two standard rooms immersed in the royal culture. Royal Suites have a king-sized bed, an antechamber, and an adjoining sitting room. One suit is Raja Suite, and the other is Rani suite. Moreover, rooms have airy balconies decorated with wooden fretwork, from where you can have a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Sarfa Khar Restaurant
Sarfa Khar Restaurant, located inside Serena Khaplu Fort, offers a combination of Balti, Pakistani and continental cuisines to treat your taste buds. Simple white translucent curtains are hanging on the walls. The design of the restaurant depicts a traditional Pakistani style. Shades of light green and white brighten up the restaurant’s contemporary woodwork. This minimalist infrastructure shows that beauty doesn’t exist in heavy ornamentation but in the simplest things. The restaurant also offers Hi-Tea, an a la carte menu, and a nice BBQ.
View of a Himalayan Range
From the beautifully intricated balconies of Serena Khaplu Fort, you will acquire the opportunity to have a panoramic view of skyrocketed Himalayan Peaks and the divine Karakoram highway. This dreamy destination is enough to fill you with a sense of tranquility.
Fruit Orchard and Organic Vegetable Garden
Fruit Orchard and Organic Vegetable Garden surround the outdoors of Serena Khaplu Palace. Many trees are on the Lawn, producing plenty of apricots and apples. The restaurant offers several cuisines that use fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.
Every room in this meticulously constructed Palace has many facilities, including private terraces. You can have a panoramic view of the fantastic outdoors of the Palace, including a beautiful illuminated lawn and stunning mountains and valleys.
Semi-Open Balcony Rooms
Khaplu Fort Gilgit Baltistan offers Semi-Open Spacious Balcony Rooms where you can enjoy and relax in a beautiful environment. Mattresses and Gao Takkiye (pillows) used in the semi-open balcony rooms and private terraces add unique glamour to the atmosphere. These balcony rooms offer a sunny spot to have breakfast and afternoon tea.
The Serena Khaplu Fort allows you to have candlelight dinner on the beautiful Lawn, under the vast sky and eye-catching greenery spreading in all directions. The use of tiny fairy lights adds a romantic and dramatic touch to the atmosphere. On the lush green Lawn, many apricots and apple trees are present.
The Shahi room has a royal, opulent design and all the amenities you could want. All rooms share shades of white and beige, which follow the facade of the building.
Shahi Meeting Room
The shahi meeting room is where the rulers used to have political and personal meetings with prominent personalities. The amenities present in this room are a desk and chair for working, high-speed Wi-Fi, air conditioners, bathrobes and slippers, flat-screen TV, a sitting area, a platter of dried fruits, and much more.
Serena Hotel converted one part of the Palace into a museum that houses many personal belongings of the ruler’s family to preserve their heritage. This museum displays Balti folk artifacts, traditional items, and local handicrafts.
Khaplu Fort Ticket Price
The accommodation price in Khaplu Palace varies according to the suites and rooms you want to book. Typically, the price of a room starts from 130$. The prices depend upon the number of people and how many days you want to stay. Usually, they can charge up to 12,000 PKR for one night. You can go through the website and contact the Serena Khaplu Palace if you want to have a stay.
Serena Khaplu Fort Timings
Serena Khaplu Palace is open to tourists and guests 24 hours and seven days a week. You can contact the palace service to know about accommodation times and prices.
Location of Serena Khaplu Palace
Serena Khaplu Palace is a luxury within the mountains. It is located on the upper side of Khaplu town in the Ghanche district, a rich blend of Tibetan and Kashmiri cultural heritage.
Is Khaplu worth visiting?
Kapluh Palace is worth seeing with its descent from the Himalayas and its brilliant snow-capped peaks; you will feel like you are in a dream. The biggest attraction of the complex is the spectacular view of the surrounding plains and the ethereal Valley.
Who built Khaplu Palace?
Yabgo Raja Daulat Ali Khan constructed the Khaplu Palace, also known as the Yabgo Khar, in 1840. During its construction, the artisans from Kashmir and Balti from Tibet, Kashmir, Ladakh, and Central Asia contributed to its architectural influence.
How old is Khaplu Fort?
This magnificent fort is 180-year-old. It is also known as the fort on the world’s roof and represents the historical background of Gilgit Baltistan. This fort is a must-see destination for all interested in the region’s history and scenic landscapes.
As you enter Khaplu Fort Gilgit Baltistan, you can see its intricately interconnected curved balconies, gardens, and courtyards. It is a popular destination among locals and tourists because of its natural beauty. You can see the Fort, Museum, and scenic landscape in one place. The entire place is breathtaking, and if you visit it early in the morning, you will witness it at its most spectacular.